Introductions to economics usually start with gushing tales about the magic of the free market. It is usually stated that the free market allows everyone to get the best quality goods at the cheapest prices. The magical invisible hand guides everyone to the best place without any unnecessary government intervention. Below is a link to a video typical of the kind. (I’ll ignore for the moment that it completely misrepresents what Adam Smith said). Its short and simple, but it is a simple argument. This is the typical free market argument with its claim that left alone it will bring the best world for everyone.
There is a problem with the free market and consumerism. You see, it is based upon increasing sales as much as possible. As soon as you sell something you want that same person to buy another product from you. You could do this by competing on price or quality, or you could build the product such that it either breaks down or goes out of fashion very soon. This process, known as Planned Obsolescence, is rarely discussed but quite logical and sensible. Continue reading “Built To Break”